Friday, November 21, 2008


Both the piano room and the music-teaching room in our house are carpeted with low 7-foot ceilings covered in acoustic tile. "Acoustic" as in "none." Meaning they're totally sound-deadening. In addition the rooms are carpeted and too small to begin with. Making music in one of these rooms is like playing into your pillow. If there were a way to modify the rooms, I'd do it. But the ceilings can't be moved up a foot, because there are rooms up there, nor can the exterior walls be moved. Hardwood flooring may help -- it's on my wish-list -- but I'm not sure it would help much.

I mentioned that as soon as we arrived in the Great Room of the cabin we stayed at on our holidays my kids chirped excitedly about the acoustics, ran and grabbed their instruments and played their hearts out. I guess I was lucky growing up. We had medium-sized rooms, but they had high turn-of-the-century ceilings. The acoustics were pretty okay in the carpeted living room, and even better in the kitchen over the smooth floor. Guess where I always ended up when practicing?

Erin doesn't normally like practicing in the public areas of the house. Today, though, we held one session of a workshop with an accompanist here and so she was already playing in front of the rest of us. Afterwards, stoked by the opportunity she'd had to play three different concerto movements with a good accompanist, she gravitated to the kitchen, where the acoustics are slightly better. And she played and played, thrilled to have a more resonant space to play in.

The other kids were getting pretty ticked off, though. A violin is very loud, especially if Erin is playing it. The living part of our house is all open-concept ... kitchen, dining area, living room and family room all connected. You can't even think with that shrill two-octaves-above-middle-C Mozart cadenza stuff ringing in your ears. Let alone hear anything on the computer, listen to a readaloud story, work on math, watch a video, play a board game or have a conversation.

Erin would like us to build a cathedral on the property somewhere. A smallish cathedral, I guess, but one with enough open resonant space inside that there is joy in filling it with music. I suspect all of us would find more intrinsic reward in practicing if we had one. I admit the idea intrigues me. A dedicated resonant acoustic space, large enough to host Suzuki group classes, quartet rehearsals and chamber music concerts. With hard floors and walls and a high vaulted ceiling. We can dream.

1 comment:

  1. That's so funny...I invariably ended up practicing in our laundry room or the bathroom for the same reasons!

    You guys crack me up, dreaming about building a cathedral! But it's totally understandable given the circumstances.


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